It was a busy afternoon at work, and I was getting ready to leave. I smiled at the thought of a nice warm summer evening ahead of me with a promise of relaxing bath and a book, perhaps. As I was about to step outside a dog-grooming parlor where I worked, I caught a glimpse of the last customer opening the door. However, it wasn’t a last minute hurried shopper but my very own husband, Christopher. I smiled and raised my eyebrows to express my surprise at his unannounced visit. He simply answered he came to pick me up on his way from work and that he was taking me to eat out. Still puzzled, as this was rather unusual for him to act on the spur of the moment, I grabbed my purse and we drove to a restaurant. As we were passing familiar streets I started wondering about the reason he was inviting me to a dinner. I glanced at him and observed a rather forlorn look, an odd expression on his face. His hands were slightly trembling and this got me really worried. He looked as if something was eating him. I couldn’t contain myself and asked him to explain what was going on. His only answer was that he would tell me later.
We entered a restaurant, which appeared to be one of these fancy ones with perfectly white starched tablecloths and a golden glow of candelabra. The music was playing softly, and a delicate aroma of damask roses filled the air. Scattered around were the tables with couples holding hands; and here and there I could hear subdued voices. As our waiter sat us at a table I observed Christopher’s hands clutching a glass of water as if he wanted to break it. His hands were slightly shaking. I looked at him, met his eyes shortly but he averted them and stared into a distance.
The silence was poignant and painful. All sorts of thoughts were racing through my mind. I found myself going through gazillions of possible and ridiculously absurd scenarios. One of them was that he contracted a terminal illness and his days were numbered. I even had a glimpse of myself nursing him till his last day of life. Another thought that crossed my mind with a lightning speed was that he joined the army. A ball of fear started swelling in my throat.
Finally, he cleared his throat and quietly whispered, “I am in love with another woman.” Next, he added meekly, “I want a divorce.” His shoulders were hunched and he wouldn’t meet my gaze.
The time stopped and my universe came to a standstill. My heart paused, too. I was utterly shocked. This was the one and only thing I wasn’t prepared to hear. For what seemed like an eternity I looked inside my heart to determine what it was feeling. I was stunned to realize that it was numb and the only things that concerned me were the legal and financial ramifications of this sad situation. I didn’t feel any pain, sadness or disappointment, just the shock and the disbelief that this was happening.
Then, I had the most astounding and profound experience. I closed my eyes for a moment and all of a sudden I saw a huge imaginary white banner displayed in front of my eyes with the most surprising message. It read “FREEDOM” in capital letters. An odd and unexplainable sense of excitement filled me. In fact, I was elated in spite of the fact that I just found myself on the verge of the unknown.
“Here it is,” I said, as I took my wedding band off my finger and send it rolling across the table. I watched him catch it and noticed an expression of relief and astonishment on his face.
All this happened while the music was playing quietly in the background. No other person in the restaurant heard the exchange that went between the two of us. That’s when I understood his reasoning for choosing this restaurant. He knew I wouldn’t throw a fit in a place full of people and so elegant. He really was scared of my reaction, probably expected a scene, a big messy scene with lots of tears and bitching. I somehow denied him of all that, I thought. Instead I was calm. “Did his ego suffer because I let him off the hook so easily?” I pondered.
I let this thought and many others remain unanswered. Somehow it didn’t matter any more. My instinct was telling me not to worry about anything and to focus on the new path that was emerging right in front of my eyes.
With this simple act I concluded our five years of marriage. From today’s perspective, I can tell it was supposed to happen. I never looked back; very soon I started moving in a completely new direction in my life, which wouldn’t be possible, if I stayed married to Christopher. A few months later I met my next significant other and I was moving with him overseas. This was a brand new beginning. The transformation I was undergoing was immense; every single aspect of my existence was affected by it. I was happy again and full of hope.